George William Tighe

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George William Tighe
Born (1776-02-25)25 February 1776
Died 1 March 1837(1837-03-01) (aged 61)
Pisa, Grand Duchy of Tuscany (now Italy)

George William Tighe 25 February 1776[1] – March 1837[1]) was the common-law husband of Margaret King.

Tighe was living in Rome when he met the aristocrat, who was visiting the city with her then husband, the 2nd Earl Mountcashell, accompanied by her friend the memoirist Katherine Wilmot. They began a passionate affair around 1803 which continued until her death at Pisa in January 1835. Lady Mountcashell remained with her husband, however, until 1805 when he left her in Germany.[2] Lord and Lady Mountcashell did not legally separate until 1821, by which time she had been living with Tighe for almost 20 years. Around 1806,[2] Tighe and Lady Mountcashell moved to Jena where she was to assume the guise of a man to study medicine. Sometime later they then moved to live in Pisa[2] where she studied under Andrea Vaccá Berlinghieri, at the University of Pisa. The couple remained at Pisa until their deaths.

Tighe and Lady Mountcashell lived together at Casa Silva, Pisa under the name of "Mr and Mrs Mason".[3] The name comes from the only children's book written by the pioneer educator and proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who served as Margaret King's governess and inspired great devotion. Some of Wollstonecraft's experiences during this year made their way into Original Stories from Real Life (1788).[4] The maternal teacher who frames these stories is called Mrs Mason.

The Masons lived in Pisa with their daughters Lauretta and Nerina. They were visited in 1820 by a young threesome: the poet Percy Shelley, his wife the writer Mary Shelley (daughter of Godwin and Wollstonecraft, and already author of Frankenstein), and their translator her stepsister Claire Clairmont. "Mrs Mason" felt maternal towards the women, as they were both in a sense daughters of her life-changing motherly governess. She offered "sage advice" to Shelley about his health and to Clairmont about her career. She introduced them all to a new intellectual and social circle in Pisa, and helped Mary set up her household, finding them pleasant lodgings and advising on servants.[5] Tighe provided Percy Shelley with a great deal of material on chemistry, biology, and statistics. The Masons inspired the Shelleys with "a new-found sense of radicalism".[6]

In 1821, Tighe became involved in the attempts of Clairmont to remove her daughter by Lord Byron from a convent in Ravenna. Tighe made a "secret trip to Ravenna and Bagnacavallo to find out what he could about the convent and Allegra's treatment there".[7] Around the same time, Marchand mentions a "orphan girl named Elizabeth Parker, who was living with them [the Masons]" who seems to have shared the poor opinions held by Tighe regarding Lord Byron.[8]

Tighe outlived his wife by two years before dying at Pisa in March 1837. They are both buried in the Old English Cemetery, Livorno. A copy of Tighe's will is held in The National Archives at Kew. This received English probate on 22 August 1837[9] as Tighe remained a British citizen at his death.


Lady Mount Cashell left her husband, Stephen Moore, 2nd Earl Mountcashell, for Tighe circa 1803[10] and they subsequently had two daughters, known as Lauretta and Nerina. Although it is suggested that Tighe and Lady Mountcashell were married circa 1822,[2][11] her grave inscription refers to her as "Margaret Jane MOUNTCASHELL, neé KING".[12]


Tighe and Lady Margaret King had two daughters:

  • Anna Laura Georgina "Laurette", (1809-1880)
  • Catherine Elizabeth Raniera "Nerina", (1815-1874)


  1. 1.0 1.1 "George W. Tighe". Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Hopkins, Keriann. "Margaret King, Lady Mount Cashell and Mrs. Mason: A Biography of One Woman". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  3. Marchand, Leslie A. (1957). Byron : A Biography, Volume III. New York: Alfred A. Knopff. p. 945. 
  4. Tomalin, 64–88; Wardle, 60ff; Sunstein, 160-61.
  5. Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives by Daisy Hay, 2010. p 184
  6. Shelley and the Revolution in taste: the body and the natural world By Timothy Morton, p232
  7. Marchand, Leslie A. (1957). Byron : A Biography, Volume III. New York: Alfred A. Knopff. p. 973. 
  8. Marchand, Leslie A. (1957). Byron : A Biography, Volume III. New York: Alfred A. Knopff. p. 976. 
  9. "Will of Giorgio Guglielmo otherwise George William Tighe of Pisa, Italy". Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  10. "Stephen Moore, 2nd Earl Mountcashell". Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  11. "Lady Margaret King". Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  12. Giunti, Matteo. "Burials at the Old English Cemetery of Livorno (Via Verdi)". Leghorn Merchant Networks Blog. Retrieved 30 May 2013.